ALLEN – New Allen head coach Lee Wiginton saw his players in helmets for the first time on the opening day of practice early Monday morning under the lights at palatial Eagle Stadium.
Wiginton was hired as the third head coach in the Eagles’ last three seasons on May 23, after spring training had been completed.
He succeeds Chad Morris, formerly the head coach at SMU and Arkansas. In his only season at Allen, Morris’ team went 11-3 and met elimination in the fourth round of the playoffs to Southlake Carroll, 47-21. Three losses in 2021 were the most for the Eagles in 16 seasons.
“I thought the first day was good,’’ said Wiginton, who spread his time between various position groups. “There were a lot of kids flying around. There was a lot of communication. Of course, there were other things that were not so good but that’s typical of a first practice.’’
Allen is the sixth head coaching stop for Wiginton, who is serving this year as the president of the Texas High School Coaches Association’s board of directors. His previous 11 years were spent in Midlothian, the last six as Midlothian Heritage’s initial head coach.
Junior quarterback Mike Hawkins Jr. is looking to expand on his leadership role this fall.
“From the team aspect, I need to be a better leader,’’ said Hawkins, coming off a very promising sophomore campaign when he accounted for over 3,500 yards of offense and 29 touchdowns. He completed 162 of 250 passes for 2,816 yards and 21 scores.
The quarterback has received college offers from a list that includes Oklahoma, Arkansas, Michigan and Alabama.
“I thought our passing game looked pretty good today,’’ Hawkins said. “We have more speed this year.’’
Three prominent juniors on the 2021 club not with the team on Monday included defensive back Malakai Thornton, the team’s tackle leader, defensive lineman David Hicks, a transfer to Katy Paetow and running back Devyn Turner, a 1,000-yard, 18-touchdown rusher last fall.
One to watch
Not too often has a freshman created the attention of Allen’s Caleb Smith. There are last year’s record-shattering numbers in leading his middle school to an undefeated eighth grade season, a 10.57 100-meter dash in March and the fact that he has already received three college scholarship offers at age 14 before even playing a down for the Eagles.
Smith, nicknamed “The Jet,’’ rushed for 1,890 yards in nine games and accounted for 37 touchdowns as the Ford Middle School quarterback.
In the opening practice, Smith worked on the defensive side of the ball.
Allen opens the season by hosting the nation’s No. 1 team in MaxPreps’ preseason ranking, Bellflower (Ca.) St. John Bosco as part of the Tom Landry Classic on Aug. 26. Allen is ranked No. 46 in the same poll. “We look at is as an opportunity,’’ said Wiginton. “You don’t sign up for people that are not going to challenge you.’’